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My COVID-19 Experience (Part 2)

This is part two in My COVID-19 Experience. Click here for part 1. 

The mental games with COVID-19 are exhausting. I was previously exposed to people who tested positive for the virus two times before. Both times I quarantined until I could get tested. Both times the test results were negative. However, while quarantining and waiting for test results your mind plays tricks on you. Every sneeze, every cough, every body ache you are wondering if you contracted the virus.

When I first had symptoms I didn’t believe I had the virus; however, by the end of the week I knew I had the virus. I still hadn’t been tested but the symptoms were there. Laying in bed for a days and having access to the internet, thoughts begin running through your mind:

  • Will I pass this on to anyone?
  • I must be over reacting. So and so had it and they said it wasn’t this bad.
  • How long will I be dealing with this? Will I end up with “long hauler” symptoms?
  • What about work?

Yes, the mental gymnastics are tiresome. You hear a lot of anecdotal stories through news outlets and social media. Some have you feeling like this who thing is a joke, it’s just the flu being overblown. There are other stories that leave you wondering if you should ever have contact with another human being ever again and you start figuring out how you will never have to leave your house.

My experience with COVID-19 seemed pretty typical. Some of the assumptions I had before getting the virus never came to fruition. There were other things things that took me by surprise. Still, there were other things that confirmed what I had been thinking. Now having had the virus, I thought I would share a few things I have been reflecting on through this season.

Concern: COVID-19 is Not the Flu 

We are still learning about this virus. It is baffling to understand why some people get the virus and others don’t, why some people are asymptomatic and others are hospitalized. It appears that 1 in 3 COVID-19 survivors will experience “long hauler” symptoms. This virus needs to be taken seriously.  

In the United States 42 % of people are considered obese and heart disease is the leading cause of death. These factor’s alone increase the risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19. Obviously, this is not something that could be fixed immediately; however, we can start taking responsibility for our own health.

We have two letters from the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his “son in the faith” and Evangelist of the church in Ephesus. Certainly Paul’s emphasis is on spiritual matters. However, almost as an aside, he mentions physical health. First, he expresses physical exercise has value (1 Timothy 4:8). Then he encourages Timothy to take wine for his frequent stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23). We don’t want to read too much into these passages, but at very least we should see there is value in physical health. 

Looking to the Old Testament, as the nation of Israel was being birthed, God gave them a complete set of laws to follow. This was primarily to set them apart as God’s chosen nation. These laws instructed the nation about acceptable worship, ceremonial practices, dietary restrictions, cleanliness and disease. In certain situations the law called for people to wear face coverings (Lev. 13:45) and to quarantine (Leviticus 13:46; Leviticus 14:8).

It is not necessary to follow the Levitical Law anymore. Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17) cancelling it’s legal demands by nailing them to the cross (Col. 2:14). Jesus has made peace between God and man (Ephesians 2:13-16). We need to understand the value of physical health and protecting the community from communicable diseases. 

Without over stating, it seems that COVID-19 has become the leprosy of our day. I have noticed that in some cases when someone contracts the virus there is a deep sense of shame and guilt. In other instances I have noticed that people are looking down on those who have the virus. There is an assumption they have been reckless and have put the entire community in danger.

As we take responsibility for our personal health and care for the community, we also recognize that we live in fallen world. There are earthquakes, floods, famine, sickness, and death. The creation itself waits for redemption and to be freed from the curse of sin (Romans 8:22). It is not a sin to get sick. 

“I dare say the greatest earthly blessing that God can give to any of us is health, with the exception of sickness… Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library.” Charles Spurgeon 

Concern: Division is Deepening

We have lost the conversation in the middle. As our culture becomes more and more polarized, our news outlets and social media accounts are confirming our biases. The extreme voices are becoming the loudest and the most dangerous. And if a person doesn’t agree with the loudest voice they are viewed at best as compromising convictions and at worst a traitor to the cause – whether is a political party, religion, or science.

It didn’t take long before COVID-19 became more about politics and science was left out of the conversation. If you don’t agree with shut downs and mask mandates you are labeled as a science denier. If you happen to believe shut downs and mask mandates don’t work you get labeled as a conspiracy theorist and you don’t care about the vulnerable in society.

There was no middle ground to have a conversation. And now that we have been in the pandemic a year we can look back and see what actually worked. The chart below ranks each state on how they did by combining COVID Mortality, Unemployment, and In Person Schooling.

Unfortunately, it’s too late. The virus is real, shutdowns do not work as well as they thought, and online school is a disaster. The middle  ground conversations were never able to happen. The battle lines were drawn and the politicians fell in line with their parties. As always, the vulnerable of the population are the ones who suffer the most: single parents, children, minorities and lower income. 

The worst part is not that this is happening on a political level, it’s that it has found it’s way into the lives of everyday people. Just today I listened to an individual tell me about an incident at a grocery store about two people verbally attacked each other. Talk to any retail worker and they can tell you horrific stories about being yelled at over people wearing masks (On both side of the debate). 

As a Christian, this concerns me. Not so much the differences but in that Christians are getting sucked into battles and look no different then the world. This is not new, this was happening in Jesus’ time. The Jews were torn between ideologies as well: Pharisees, Sadducee, Herodians, and the even the Romans.

Jesus desired more for his followers. He called them to repentance and to the Kingdom (Mark 1:15). He said the Kingdom was in their midst (Luke 17:21) and instructed them to seek the Kingdom first (Mathew 6:33). After Jesus ascended into heaven the Apostles continued preaching the kingdom (Acts 8:12). Paul thought it was necessary to remind the church in Philippi their citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Christians have a responsibility to pursue truth (1 Corinthians 13:6; Philippians 4:8) and to seek peace (Romans. 12:18). This does not mean that Christians don’t have deep convictions about politics, social justice, and sexuality. After all, God’s people are to do justice, love kindness, and walk in humility with God (Micah 6:8). However, they are challenged to put away slander and malice (Ephesians 4:31).

When we seek the Kingdom first we draw closer to Christ and the labels of this world become more and more dissatisfying. We find them unnecessary and let them go. In doing so we find ourselves on mission with Jesus himself. Christians are bridge builders tasked with the ministry of reconciliation, ambassadors for the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:8-21).

The “slippery slope” has two sides. One runs to the left, the other to the right. the goal is not to be progressive or conservative, but to be truthful. Preston Sprinkle 

Concern: Government is Not Your Savior 

There is a role that government plays in society, to deny this would be denying God (1 Peter 2:13). Governments are tasked with protecting life and upholding justice, specifically for the marginalized. Nations are servants of God and will be held accountable (Romans 13:1-7).

There is a moment in the nation of Israel’s history where they asked for a king. Through the prophet Samuel God warned the nation. If you have a king, he will take your sons and your daughters. He will take your property and livelihood. Eventually you will become his slaves (1 Samuel 8:1-11).

We don’t live under a monarchy, the United States is a republic. However, the principle stays true. Government never relinquishes power, it continues to grow and take control. During the pandemic the government flexed its power determining what stores could open and what stores need to shut. Groups were given restrictions on how they could gather. Workers were deemed essential and non-essential.

Perhaps some of these things were necessary (although there is mounting evidence they were not), my concern is how readily people accepted these practices. How much control of your life are you willing to give to government in the name of health, education, or safety? 

The continued growth of the United States government is not surprising. Even within my generation there seems to have been seismic shift of the role of government in our lives. The government is re-positioning itself. Instead of protecting opportunity for people to provide for themselves, the government is becoming the provider. Will the government become large enough that it will satisfy all your desires? The problem is that the only way the government can be a provider is if it takes it first.

We understand the nations of the world come and go. We understand the Kingdom is unshakable (Hebrews 12:28), so in the meantime we continue to pray. We pray for all people, included the leaders our nation. We pray for peace to be able to follow Jesus completely, hoping that more people would come to saving faith (1 Timothy 2:1-7)

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy. 

My Hope

Although I have concerns, I continue will to trust in the promises of God. I am confident that Jesus is using this season to strengthen his church and build his Kingdom (Matthew 16:18). Whatever suffering we walk through on this earth will not be worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). There will be a point where it is finished, the old way of things has passed, and Jesus has made all things new (Revelation 21:1-5).

Sleep well tonight. God is watching over you and he never sleeps. 

2 Comments

  1. Pam Ostmark

    Great article Mike. Really good perspective on the past year. Also your email about the dogs was spot on. I’ve certainly been tangled and stopped! Thanks!

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